Cox is the first Tiger to reach the finals since 2010
March 21, 2014
OKLAHOMA CITY - Friday afternoon, J'den Cox became the youngest Tiger in Mizzou Wrestling history to become an All-American. This evening, he became the youngest wrestler in Tiger history to make it to the final round of the NCAA National Championships. He is also the first Tiger to qualify for finals since Max Askren in 2010.
Cox reserved his spot in the 197-pound finals with a 4-1 decision over No. 14 Chris Penny (VT). Cox escaped two seconds into the second period and took down Penny soon after to take control of the match. Over two minutes of riding time proved to be the cherry on top, sending Cox to Saturday's championship bout versus Ohio State's top-seed Nick Heflin.
"It was interesting because there were three fifth-year seniors in the (197) semifinals and one true freshman," said Head Coach Brian Smith. "J'den will be ready. He's so calm and composed, he'll be ready."
Missouri's freshman-phenom boasts a 37-2 record in his first year sporting the black and gold singlet. In five tournaments this season, Cox has stood atop the podium in four, with the exception of the Southern Scuffle where he fell to Iowa State's Kyven Gadson in sudden victory of the semifinals. The Columbia, Mo-native and Hickman High graduate came to Mizzou with an eye opening resume, winning four state titles and posting a 195-3 record.
"The guys and my coaches prepare me everyday. I'm rolling around with the best guys in the practice room every day," said Cox following his semifinal victory. "We train together and work together, and they do everything they can to push me and prepare me in every single way for anyone I go up against on that mat."
Cox looks to become the first Tiger freshman to win a NCAA title, and just the 14th true freshman to be an NCAA Champion in the Championship's 83-year history.
Top-seed Drake Houdashelt lost a heartbreaker in tiebreaker 1 to No. 5 Jason Tsirtsis (NW) in the 149-semifinals. The two wrestled for nearly nine minutes before Tsirtsis escaped Houdashelt's grip with a second remaining in overtime. The loss was Houdashelt's second of the season and his first since December against Ohio. He will wrestle No. 8 David Habat of Edinboro tomorrow morning to decide who wrestles in the third place match.
"(Drake) lost a heartbreaker," said Smith. "That's tough, but we have to keep our composure. It was difficult. We have two great kids, and we know Drake is going to battle back tomorrow for us."
After two bonus point victories in Friday's morning session, true freshman Joey Lavallee fell one match short of All-American honors after a loss to No. 1 James Green of Nebraska, 12-2. His only other loss of the tournament came from the No. 3 seed, Alex Dieringer. No. 14 Lavallee joined the Tiger's starting line-up halfway through the season and turned many heads with a couple of ranked victories and a third place at the 2014 MAC Conference Championships.
Moving on to the final day of the Championships, Houdashelt and Cox look to finish their NCAA tournament's strong. Houdashelt kicks things off for the Tigers at 10 a.m. as he vies for a third place finish. Cox will face No. 1 Nick Heflin tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. Watch these 2014 All-Americans live on ESPN's family of networks.
133 - Matt Manley
Champ. Round 1: Matt Manley decision over Mack McGuire (Kent State) in sudden victory 2, 7-5.
Champ. Round 2: No. 1 Joe Colon (UNI) decision over Matt Manley, 5-1.
Cons. Round 2: Mark Grey (Cornell) decision over Matt Manley, 3-0.
141 - Lavion Mayes
Champ. Round 1: No. 2 Logan Stieber (Ohio State) fall over Lavion Mayes at 2:48.
Cons. Round 1: Lavion Mayes major decision over Avery Garner (Utah Valley), 15-5.
Cons. Round 2: Lavion Mayes decision over Laike Gardner (Lehigh), 9-5.
Cons. Round 3: Luke Vaith (Hofstra) decision over Lavion Mayes, 6-2.
149 - No. 1 Drake Houdashelt - ALL-AMERICAN
Champ. Round 1: No. 1 Drake Houdashelt major decision over Alex Kocer (SDSU), 12-3.
Champ. Round 2: No. 1 Drake Houdashelt major decision over No. 16 Alex Richardson (ODU), 13-0.
Quarterfinals: No. 1 Drake Houdashelt decision over No. 9 Eric Grajales (Michigan), 3-1.
Semifinals: No. 5 Jason Tsirtsis (NW) decision over No. 1 Drake Houdashelt in tie-breaker 1, 2-1.
157 - No. 14 Joey Lavallee
Champ. Round 1: No. 14 Joey Lavallee decision over Immanuel Kerr-Brown (Duke), 10-3.
Champ. Round 2: No. 3 Alex Dieringer (OSU) fall over No. 14 Joey Lavallee at 1:38.
Cons. Round 2: No. 14 Joey Lavallee technical fall over Johnny Greisheimer (Edinboro), 22-7.
Cons. Round 3: No. 14 Joey Lavallee major decision over Paul Hancock (Army), 14-4.
Cons. Round 4: No. 1 James Green (Neb) major decision over No. 14 Joey Lavallee, 12-2.
197 - No. 2 J'den Cox - ALL-AMERICAN
Champ. Round 1: No. 2 J'den Cox decision over Mario Gonzalez (Illinois), 10-4.
Champ. Round 2: No. 2 J'den Cox major decision over No. 15 Braden Atwood (Purdue), 19-6.
Quarterfinals: No. 2 J'den Cox decision over Conner Hartmann (Duke), 5-1.
Semifinals: No. 2 J'den Cox decision over No. 14 Chris Penny (VT), 4-1.
HWT - Devin Mellon
Champ. Round 1: No. 9 Connor Medberry (Wisconsin) major decision over Devin Mellon, 11-2.
Cons. Round 1: Ty Walz (Virginia Tech) decision over Devin Mellon in sudden victory 1, 6-4.
SESSION V MATCHUPS
1. Penn State - 91.0 pts.
2. Minnesota - 90.5 pts.
3. Oklahoma State - 87.5 pts.
4. Iowa - 67.0 pts.
5. Ohio State - 52.0 pts.
6. Edinboro - 48.5 pts.
7. Cornell - 46.5 pts.
8. Virginia Tech - 45.5 pts.
9. Oklahoma - 45.0 pts.
10. Illinois - 37.0 pts.
11. MISSOURI - 35.5 pts.
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